Opposition Proposing Authority to Oversee JCF


The Parliamentary Opposition is proposing the creation of a new statutory body, the Police Services Authority (PSA), with the supporting legislation, to oversee matters relating to management and accountability within the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).
This proposal, according to Opposition Spokesman on National Security, Peter Bunting, resonates out of discussions between the Government and the Opposition on the recommendation of the JCF Strategic Review for the merging of the Police Services Commission (PSC) and the Police Civilian Oversight Authority (PCOA).
In his contribution to the 2009/10 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on July 7, Mr. Bunting said the Opposition, in noting the “considerable time” it would take to amend the Constitution to effect the merger, is of the view that “we should use that time to implement a comprehensive new arrangement for the governance of the police force.”
“This would, of course, require other legislative measures to transfer the functions of the Police Services Commission and the Police Civilian Oversight Authority to the PSA. The new Act establishing that (PSA) would be an opportunity to repeal, in some cases, centuries-old pieces of legislation, such as the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) Act, the Island Special Constabulary Force (ISCF) Act, and the legislation establishing District Constables, and bring all police personnel under one umbrella,” he outlined.
Regarding the ISCF, Mr. Bunting contended that there is no longer any justification in maintaining this as a separate unit, pointing out “they are no longer a reserve force, as was the original intention.”
“They are full time, pensionable, permanent employees, but with a different command structure and they only meet at the level of the Commissioner (of Police). There is no more justification for this and it’s time we bring these two together under this new Act,” the Opposition Spokesman said.
Mr. Bunting said establishment of the new Act would also strengthen the powers of the Police Commissioner, pointing out that currently, he does not “effectively control the important management levers of personnel and finance.”
“For a long time it has been recognised that two major impediments to the effective management of the police force are the Police Commissioner’s lack of control over personnel decisions, such as promotion, dismissal, and other disciplinary action; and the capital budget of the force. The strengthened powers of the Commissioner would facilitate the disciplining and removal of corrupt and criminal elements in the JCF,” he argued.
Mr. Bunting said that increasing the Commissioner’s authority would necessitate the establishment of a special body to monitor his activities to safeguard against arbitrary or capricious use of power. “A critical element will be the composition and method of appointment of the Board of the new Police Services Authority,” he said.
“The Opposition believes that this new police service, as opposed to a police force, would also contribute to the paradigm shift in perception towards a civil law enforcement agency,” Mr. Bunting said.

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